Resolving a star as something other than a point of light

This is Betelgeuse, which is one of the brightest stars in the night sky (9th brightest over the entire sky).  It is the shoulder of the constellation Orion.  Betelgeuse is notable for a number of reasons, the first of it is one of the biggest super giants you can see in the night sky.  The radius of Betelgeuse is thought to be roughly twice that of the orbit of mars.  It would fill up the entire inner part of our solar system.  So even though Betelgeuse is 640 light years away, in the largest telescopes we’ve got you can see it as something other than just a point of light.  (Previously hubble did this at much less resolution).

This latest image shows the extremely curious fact that Betelgeuse is not symmetric.  It is known that it is in the death throws of the stellar life cycle (which takes tens of millions of years), blasting out bits of it’s atmosphere, however up until this point, that was not directly visibly observable, and thought to be a more symmetric thing.  This image is amazing for a number of reasons, not least of which is both confirming, and putting a new spin on, the process by which a star dies.  And it’s just gorgeous.  What amazing wonders the night sky holds.

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